Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Night with a Fiddler

If I were a rich man!

Alright, if I were a rich man, surely my life would be very different. But aside from that, if I were rich, I would most definitely make more trips to the theater. If I were a wealthy...woman.

I had the delightful opportunity to go see Fiddler on the Roof with my family, and what made the experience even more exciting and once-in-a-lifetime was that this particular performance would be the last for the play's longtime star, Topol. For any of you who have seen Fiddler, I don't have to tell you that Topal is not only the star, but he IS Tevye. He was invited to open Fiddler on the Roof in London's West End in 1967, and also starred in the 1971 film, and since the opening he has appeared as Tevye over 2,500 times.

2,500 times! Can you believe it? And you know what? He's still got it!

It was so fantastic to get to see my absolute favorite musical live on stage and starring the Topol.

And when I say we saw his last performance, I mean we really did! This is his farewell tour and, at least as far as my neck of the woods goes, we saw the last performance at Music Hall at Fair Park. It was running May 19-24. We went on the 24th. It was awesome!

We managed to get there early, as was the plan. Before the show, we grabbed dinner at this great Mexican food place, El Fenix, but we were still about half an hour early for the show. Which gave us the chance to buy any souvenirs before the show, as opposed to waiting in long lines after, or during intermission. And it also all but guaranteed that any shirts/sweatshirts, etc. would still be available in our desired sizes. Which they were. And I would know. I got a tee-shirt and a pullover hoodie. :) I love them.

Better still, our seats were great! Sort of front/middle, with a very lovely view of the stage. I didn't take any pictures during-- who really wants to be that guy, spending more time on figuring out why the flash only illuminates the heads directly in front of you instead of the actors on stage, and effectively annoying everyone directly around you? I didn't! I did take a picture of the curtain before the show started. Because it had some pretty cool looking stuff on it. 

And while I'm on the topic of seats, seating, and so on, I'd like to point out that I don't understand wearing updo's to performances such as this. I agree that they look classy, elegant, and can really top off a nice dress (no pun intended), but the thing of it is, it's not exactly stadium seating. And I can't very well sit in a booster seat just so that I can see over the top of your 'do, ma'am. But it's not just ladies! Granted the guys don't necessarily toss their locks up in fancy twists, buns, or whatever, but they can have hair that's hard to see around -- especially because they're usually taller in the first place. I, on the other hand, am not. Tall. I'm short. So even the guy sitting in front of me who'd decided to style his hair in the popular and easy-to-achieve messy style posed a problem for me. Particularly because the one part of his hair that was really sticking up was in the back. To me, it almost looked like an unwanted tuft of grass on the stage. But that's not really the point. It wasn't too problematic for me this go around, but I imagine I'm not the only person who has trouble seeing over hair. Anyway, maybe I'm wrong, but trust me, it's not very much fun to dish out your money for good seats and then have to crane your neck to see over or around the tall, done up, big, or excessive hair belonging to the person who's seating in front of you. Just a thought.

I also snapped a couple of pictures of me and my parents while we waited. Proof of our going was necessary. At least that's how I felt. But after that, there wasn't much else to take pictures of, so I put my camera away and we skim-read our playbills.

When the play started and the first song began, I won't lie; I got a little emotional. Mostly that joy kind of emotion, because I mean it when I say this is my favorite musical ever, and Topol's voice is fantastic. The dancing, the singing, it was so awesome to be there and actually get to see it as it happens instead of on a television screen. All of the acting was great, too. Seriously, hats off to all of those incredibly talented people! Topol was amazing, not that I expected anything less, and the music was wonderful, too! Really, not a bad thing to say about the whole thing.

Probably one of the less recognized talents of the night, though, was the woman directing traffic in the ladies restroom. We had a mere 15 minute intermission with which to use the facilities, and I don't know that it would have been possible if not for the woman at the head of the line, an employee of the venue, who would call out "Two available!", "One available!", "One on the left!", and herd us through the process. It was really quite effective, much to my surprise, but Mom and I still have to run to make it to the theater doors before they closed us out at the start of the second half!

One of my favorite parts had to be seeing Topol do the signature dance (if you've seen the movie/play, you know the one) during If I Were a Rich Man. Definitely one of the great moments. But it would be impossible to pick just one.

It was a long play, but never too long. The story is engaging anyway, and the second half didn't lose any steam or fall short of the first half in any way. And in that same respect, the audience's enthusiasm never diminished. The standing ovation at the end lasted from the finishing line through two bouts of cast bowing without dwindling or breaking up; and it erupted when Topol made his front and center gracious bow.

Leaving was a bit trying, since everyone else is trying to leave at the same time. Mom took my picture next to the poster for the performance, but what really took longest was waiting for our car. When we got there, valet service was very helpful --no need to hunt for a spot, or make a long walk and not be early after all. But the poor guys (and at least one girl, I saw) were swamped with little valet tickets and were doing the best they could to run back and forth between dropping off a car and going for the next. Some of the actors came out the stage entrance/exit doors, but there was such a big crowd of people waiting, presumably for Topol, and as I've said I'm short so seeing over their heads wasn't an option. The wait for our car took so long I thought I might get to see Topol after all, but just before we got our car, someone came out and told the waiting throng of people that he [Topol] thought we were his best audience and he was thankful for us, but that he wasn't feeling well. Or something to that effect. Again, big crowd, me in the back, not so easy to hear what was said. I didn't really mind, though, because that made it possible for me to leave without feeling like I was missing out on something.

Anyway, it was an unforgettable night; a night I'll never forget! I'm so thankful I could go with my parents and that we got to see it with Topol. I highly recommend actually going to a live performance of something. It's much better than the movies. But the movies are nice, too, for when we can't go to a show, or don't have enough money. 

But definitely go. 

And don't wear your hair up, just in case someone short has seats behind you. ;)


Matt Bukaty said...

I'm leaving a comment on your blog, because no one is leaving comments on mine and I know how irritating that is. :(

Yay for Fiddler though! I feel that St. Louis was better though...*looks around*...only cuz I was there and I'm greedy. :P

P.S. the secret code was "barkoc" :)

Sarah said...

Yes now I don't have to worry about explaining myself when I say stuff like "nobody's commenting!" It would help if comments weren't basically the only way to be sure people are reading/enjoying the blog. Haha

I second your Yay! And it's okay that you're there. And greedy. Both were fantastic! In totally different ways, and for totally different reasons. I plan on blogging about St. Louis, too! Hopefully soon! ;-P

Barkoc, now there's a name to give your children! Hehe